mordicai caeli (mordicai) wrote,
mordicai caeli
mordicai

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changeling: the lost by matt mcfarland, chuck wendig, travis stout, jess hartley, & ethan skemp.

i regret to inform you that this is not a good book or system. listen: i really wanted to like it; i really wanted to like changeling: the dreaming back in the day & was able to squint really hard & see the game i wanted to play in it, but i can't even do that here. now, i had gotten my expectations up, which i wanted to avoid, but the thing is, promethean was so unexpectedly great. i was so shell shocked by its excellence that i accidentally starting thinking changeling would work out in the new world of darkness. so the let down is...well, it isn't rough, but it is a let down. i'm invested in the idea, but it is an idea that keeps flubbing. old changeling i could work with: i could cut out the magic system & replace it with mage, i could use the twisty nature of freeholds & the dreaming to tell new tales, but unfortunately ...the lost closes doors instead of opening them.

lets look at some problems one at a time. the first thing that i noticed, flipping through the book on the train ride home, was that it is a mess of independent mechanics. there are rules systems unattached to any other, in this game or any other of the nwod games; not just that, but without analogue or orientation. dream weaving? the hedge? fuck, why are oaths & pacts separate, mechanically? all the weird subsets of mechanics veers away from the elegance that makes white wolf games so attractive, & apart from that, they aren't even indexed together well! they're just floating about in the book. even the math-heavy systems like d20 are going away from things like this; you hear horror stories of the gaming hobby's roots, when the rules weren't centralized but were spread out over various chapters & even books. come on, guys, who laid this out? kevin siembieda? & about the powers? did we learn fucking nothing from the old cantrip system? a dozen little powers is not better than one flexible power; high maintenance systems don't add to the ambiance, they detract.

& like i was saying about closing doors: thanks for nothing. the best of white wolf's systems are the open ended ones; in fact i would say that the whole impetus behind the relaunch of the white wolf games was that the world of darkness was shrinking instead of growing. things were being catalogued, whereas now the intention of adding a new monster is more "holy fucking shit, this thing is out there? what else could be? fucking anything!" which leaves the storyteller with margins to draw from. to harp back on the promethean party line, that game wrote books whose entire purpose was to explode the preconceptions inherent in the system, to subvert your players assumptions. how great is that? & hell, maybe they'll do a sourcebook for this that does it; i hope so. but the game defines too much, & at the wrong times. i appreciate that the definition of faerie is very broad, & includes things like devas. good! that is the best part, i'd say! but the fucking hedge? listen, i've got a similar thing in my mythology, but you used it to close off your world, not open it...why then spend so much time talking about it? unlike the similar "labyrinth" of wraith, the hedge is boring. how do you make something like that uncool?

the art is really nice? i should interject that. some of the art is very well done. thanks guys!

or how about this: why can't i play a fucking faerie? i mean, your game lines are built on ponying up the play-a-monster genre. right? so why am i stuck playing a victim? seriously, the only character types available are victim. the only ones! the "four courts?" the big "chose your social club" part of the game? are all based on choose-your-victimhood. you could hide! you could fight back! but at the end of the day there is only one theme available to you. or well, maybe another theme...do you have a soul? by the way, making a game where you are limited in the stories you could tell? is a snooze. why can't i play a fucking faerie?! all you've got to work with is this: you are a human, stolen from the world, & then you escaped & came back, marked by your experiance. so if a mermaid lured your sailor off his ship, he might come back, i don't know, with gills & living in the water. but, lets be clear, he's not a real merman. that right belongs to the "true fae." not to your dumb ass: after all, you're just a human. gee, thanks. i really appreciate how i can...not play a faerie, in your faerie game. the corollary, an all ghoul game of vampire? might make a good campaign? but not a good game. not more than one campaign.

again, i like your archetypes somewhat, but also hate them. "elemental, beast, ogre" even "darkling, fairest & wizened" are all evocative & broad. if i want to play a goblin, i've got choices! great, so far so good! but then...you...limit it, internally? you made them seem broad, but then made them narrow. beasts have to be dumb. why? what if i want to play br're rabbit, or anansi? no? darklings have to be...guys who hide? you give a nice name like darklings & then limit them emotionally & mechanically? i felt let down. & the uh, what do you call them, entitlements? the bloodlines, the advanced clubs? are close to being interesting, bu then suddenly swerve & narrow so that basically only one personality fits. heck, i think the phrase "ministry of scarecrows" is great, but then you go & make it hard to play one. i mean, there is some wiggle room; you could either be jason, or be a guy telling urban myths, but that is the illusion of diversity. you have to make room for a wide range of interpretation. you could have them be guys who are into fear, period. they don't have to have such narrow purview! you've got engaging art, a good name...& then the content is a let down. just like the rest of the book. dammit.
Tags: books, dnd, rpgs, wod
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